Gay Rights Bills threatened by democratic senate loss

Wed. January 20, 2010 12:00 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

senator elect scott brown

Pending gay rights bills in Congress threatened by Scott Brown's win in the Mass.

Boston, MA - Pending gay rights bills in Congress are likely to have a difficult – if not impossible – time winning approval after Republican Scott Brown's win over Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race Tuesday.

Coakley was widely considered a shoo-in to replace the late Ted Kennedy when she entered the special election.

While Coakley's pro-gay rights positions are well known, Brown attempted to cloak his views, refusing to answer such questions from the mainstream media. Brown would only say he holds a similar position on gay marriage as President Obama, who publicly supports civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

Brown, however, did respond to questions from the anti-gay group Massachusetts Family Institute. According to a scorecard released by the group, Brown opposes gay marriage, laws that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and repeal of the military's ban on open gay service, also known as "don't ask, don't tell."

Without the Massachusetts seat, Senate Democrats have lost their sixty seat filibuster-proof majority. Republicans are widely expected to block any gay rights legislation put up for a vote. Several bills, including repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and workplace anti-discrimination legislation, already in play, now face a much steeper incline.

The loss also signals an increasing influence of gay rights foes in the liberal northeast.

In New Jersey, Maine and New York, social conservatives have been working overtime to alter the political landscape in their favor. Opponents of gay marriage supported New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's win over Democrat Jon Corzine, who had promised to back a gay marriage bill. The loss spooked lawmakers in the Senate, who killed the legislation. The loss came just weeks after senators in New York rejected gay nuptials, despite the urging of Governor David Paterson. Also in November, voters in Maine "vetoed" a gay marriage bill approved by lawmakers in the spring.

But Massachusetts was supposed to be different. Widely considered the nation's most liberal state, voters have returned openly gay Representative Barney Frank to Washington since 1981. And Ted Kennedy, an unabashedly liberal lawmaker, handily won statewide elections for 46 years.

Opponents of gay marriage also supported Brown's campaign.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, placed thousands of robo-calls to Massachusetts voters urging them to defeat "radical" Coakley because of her support for gay marriage.

As Massachusetts attorney general, Coakley has sued the United States government on behalf of gay and lesbian couples whose Massachusetts marriages are not being recognized by the federal government. The lawsuit, one of three wending their way through the federal courts, is expected to reach the Supreme Court.

Late Tuesday, Obama called Brown to congratulate him on his "hard-fought" victory over Coakley, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine